Darryl Holter’s music can be classified as that of a folk singer, an American roots artist, or if you want to stretch a bit, a pop artist. His type of music really does not matter as the focus is always upon his stories. His booming voice has now returned with his third album of tales that will amuse, scare, intrigue, and ultimately entertain.
Crooked Hearts is mostly a dark album that is inhabited by real but extremely flawed people. There are few happy endings in the musical universe of Darryl Holter. There is longing and romance but they are usually countered by betrayal and heartbreak. It is not an album for the light of heart on a sunny day, but rather one that can be appreciated as the shadows fall. It explores the dark places of the human story.
Holter has always been able to write much of his own material. The title track is is a first person narrative of two lovers committing a robbery but the real crime is yet to come. “Mouffetard Noir” takes place in picturesque Paris but the story has an unhappy ending and long-term regret. Many times it is fate that brings people together but in his “November Rain” that does not mean they were right for each other. The most creative track finds him using the music of the fourth track of Keith Jarrett’s 1974 album Concert At Cologne as a foundation for his lyrics of a bittersweet memory.
Holter also chose his cover material well. Dave Alvin’s “Mary Brown” is the album’s lead track and sets the tone for what will follow as it combines love, crime, and betrayal into a painful but unforgettable mix. Richard Thompson’s “Walking The Long Miles Home” is a tale of loneliness. Bob Dylan’s “Love is Just a Four-Letter World,” which is often associated with Joan Baez, is given a masculine interpretation.
In many ways Crooked Hearts is a throwback album as it takes old themes and populates them with an assortment of imperfect characters. The result is an album of music that draws the listener in and keeps his or her attention throughout.